Prime Minister Narendra Modi should immediately begin talks between the leaders of the Meitei and tribal communities to restore peace in Manipur, the Congress said on Wednesday after the party’s fact-finding team visited the State.
Senior party leader Ajoy Kumar said that extremists had taken over the narrative in the State, leaving the two communities starkly divided.
“The worrying sign is that the situation has gone out of control from the politicians and the narrative has taken over by the extremists. Now, even politicians are speaking this language. Kuki officials have left the [Imphal] valley and gone to hills and Meitei officials have left hills and gone to valley,” Mr. Kumar said at a press conference after the fact-finding delegation submitted its report.
“This has never happened in independent India. In my police career, I have never seen this kind of separation of communities. The divide between the communities is so deep. The Congress demands that Prime Minister and Home Minister should immediately start negotiations by convening a meeting of leaders of both the communities,” added the former Lok Sabha member, who was an IPS officer before joining politics.
On May 17, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge sent a delegation, headed by Mukul Wasnik, to visit the State and make an assessment of the situation on the ground.
Manipur has been witnessing ethnic clashes between Meiteis and Kukis and other tribal groups after a single judge bench of the Manipur High Court directed the State Government to grant Scheduled Tribe status to the Meiteis. On May 3, tribal groups had taken out a tribal solidarity march to protest the court order, triggering violent clashes.
The Congress team found that as many as 54,000 people have been displaced, over 2,000 homes and 20 police stations burnt down, 200 churches damaged, and 1,000 semi-automatic weapons and 6,000 ammunition rounds stolen from police training centres, Mr. Kumar said
The fact-finding delegation, which called on the Governor, has demanded immediate rehabilitation of the victims of violence, enhanced security for villages that lie on the border between the Valley and the hills, a compensation of ₹20 lakh for the next of kin of those who died, and ₹5 lakh for the seriously injured.